Focus on your future: think about tomorrow!
It takes preparation to research and find the best college or university for you. Thinking About Tomorrow is designed to assist you through this challenging process.
A college education will help you take charge of your future and open doors to career opportunities. Depending on where you are in the process, we have offer a range of options and events for you explore your college options.
College Preparation Checklists
- Take the ACT PLAN test in the fall to prepare for the ACT which you can take during your junior year in April or June.
- Take the PSAT in October. The scores will not count for National Merit Scholar consideration in your sophomore year, but it is valuable practice for when you take the PSAT again in your junior year when the scores will count, as well as for the SAT Reasoning Test, which you should also be taking in your junior year. You will receive your PSAT results in December.
- Start preparing for the SAT Reasoning Test.
- Register in April for the SAT Subject Tests that you will be completing before June.
- Take the SAT Subject Test in June.
- Update your file of important documents and notes including: copies of report cards, lists of awards, honors, and activities in which you are involved.
- Think about selecting a school, finding out about the different types. Decide which characteristics are most important to you, such as the size of the school, distance from home, cost, and extracurricular activities.
- Start to visit colleges and talk with college students; go prepared with a list of questions.
- Create a list of college characteristics to decide how to evaluate your different college choices.
- Review the high school courses you need to take to meet the requirements of the colleges you are interested in attending.
- Ask if AP or other honors courses are available at your school and see if you are eligible to take them. Find out how to enroll in them your junior year.
- Try to take challenging classes. The stronger your schedule and grades, the better chance you have of impressing the admissions officers.
- Continue extracurricular activities, as admissions officers look at students' extracurricular activities when considering them for admission.
- Continue participation in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops, and camps with specialty focuses such as music, arts, and science.
- Meet with your college/career counselor at least once a year.
- Continue to take challenging courses and to explore careers. This is a very important year. Many colleges base their decision on your sophomore and junior year grades.
- In October, take the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). This is a good practice test, and it will help identify areas for you to work on. Good scores may also lead to a scholarship.
- Continue to shop around; all colleges are not the same. Gather information on colleges through college web sites or brochures (available in your high school guidance office). Compare entrance requirements, cost, size, unique programs, facilities, your intended field of study, athletics, and extracurricular activities. Talk to friends or relatives who have attended. It may or may not be the place for you.
- Attend at least one college fair. It's a good time to gather information about a lot of colleges and ask questions. Besides, they're fun!
- Visit your high school's counseling office often to see when representatives for the colleges you are interested in will be visiting your school. Schedule to meet them. Also check for new incoming information about colleges and scholarships.
- Take the SAT I and/or the ACT (American College Test) during the spring semester. Find out which test the colleges you are interested in require.
- Consult with your counselor or college admissions offices if you're unsure of your score. Should you take the test again?
- Continue to check into scholarships. There are books, computer software, and web sites with scholarship lists.
- In the spring and summer before your senior year, visit college campuses. Many colleges allow you to register online for campus tours and information sessions.
- Don't get "Senioritis!" Your senior courses and grades do make a difference. Notify the schools you have applied to if there is a change in your grades or course schedule.
- You can still take or retake the SAT I and ACT but make sure the test scores can be sent to your chosen schools before the application deadline. See your counselor for test dates and application deadlines.
- Apply to several schools, including "dream" schools and "safety" schools. Competition for college admission varies every year. Work hard and apply to your "dream" schools, but be prepared by applying to a "safety" school, just in case.
- Continue to visit colleges that you missed during the summer.
- Send your college applications in early. Provide all requested materials, e.g., recommendations, transcripts, test scores, and essays. If necessary, ask your counselor about a waiver for the application fee.
- Applying for financial aid? Send in the required forms (FAF, FFS or FAFSA). You should be able to get them from the guidance office at your high school. Submit them in January or February for early processing.
- After you've decided on the college you plan to attend, you should notify all other colleges of your decision.